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June 5, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

The Moonbeam Clock

The description promised that I would Wake up to gentle, illuminating light

If you fall back asleep, a bell sounds. 

I was instantly mesmerized by its picture.  The design was sleek and retro.  It reminded me of Christmases past.  A few months later, I received it as a birthday gift. 

I plugged it in.  The face glowed a comfortable orange.  I set the alarm for 5 AM and fell asleep.  I looked forward to waking to the gentle illumination. 

Sometime in the night, I was jolted out of bed by the tearing sound of a chainsaw.  The room was filled with flashing light, and I looked around for the police car. 

Then I realized that the Moonbeam Clock was the culprit.  I stumbled around for the off button.  Finally, finally it was off.  Then I noticed it wasn’t 5 AM.  It was 4:45.  Sure, only a fifteen minute difference…but hey, that’s early even for me. 

Later that week, the power went out.  When it came back on, the ‘illuminating’ light was permanently stuck on.  Now even when the lights were out in the room, it felt a little bit like daylight.  I eventually had to unplug the clock and go back to my old, standard clock radio.

Still, the Moonbeam Clock receives high ratings from alleged buyers.  Perhaps I got a dud; the one that was dropped in the factory and tucked into a box when no one was watching the assembly line.  My dissappointment in the object is high; the gentle “illumination” was a lot like a seizure-inducing spotlight.  The “bell” was like the fire alarm in a high school that isn’t up to code yet. 

And I had such high hopes for something that sounded so nice.  How can you go wrong with Moonbeam in the name?

 

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8 Comments

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  1. teresabee / Apr 29 2010 6:40 pm

    Have you tried the pillow alarm clock. You put it in with your pillow and it’s supposed to vibrate and gently shake you awake.

  2. Llewellyn / Mar 15 2009 6:00 pm

    I must defend this clock. Mine works fine and I love it. I even bought 3 more, each in a different pastel color, for all the bedrooms.
    I don’t know what you were expecting but the Moonbeam operates in the same vein as the analog alarm clocks from the ’50s and ’60s, except it is electronically regulated and has a battery backup. You set the wakeup time with the little hand and, like the old days, give-or-take 5 minutes. This is not overtly precise digital technology. (We were so freeform those days!) And of course it displays a 12-hour cycle, like most round clocks of yesteryear, so you turn the alarm off in the morning and on when you go to bed.
    If the flashing light, which emanates from the left side fluting, were any subtler, it wouldn’t have a chance of waking me. It is definitely not a spotlight. After sunrise, with all the morning light flooding through the windows, it is the bell that does the trick. I agree it is a bit raucous, though effective, and in its old-fashioned alarm clock bell timbre, entirely authentic. No synthesized electronic beeps here.
    The snooze button which does immediately silence (and darken) the alarm is as convenient as any clock’s, right on top. You must have been really stunned to have stumbled around before finding it.
    It sounds like your clock needed to be power-cycled after the outage. (There is after all, a computer circuit inside handling the backup, timing and flashing logic.) Remove the backup battery, assuming you had put one in, and unplug the clock for a minute; then plug it back in and re-insert the battery. I’ll bet it works properly again.
    My previous alarm clock-radio, a Sangean RCR-1, had a gently ramping-up beep that you may prefer. It was dubbed the “Humane Waking System” and I was so attuned to its tone I would wake and hit the Off button after the very first tiny “neep-neep”. Had I not, it would grow to a very insistent “BEEP!”, “BEEP!” That part of the design worked well.
    I ended up quite disappointed by the RCR-1, which I had bought for all its advanced technology: self-setting from the Boulder, Colorado atomic clock, individual 7-day dual-alarm programmable, digital plus analog displays, and a decent radio. But it turned out the clock couldn’t pick up the time signal from my bedside location and the LCD display blanked out from the pillow height angle! The programming was not what you would call intuitive (and I’m an engineer) and the instruction manual was feeble. Finally, despite my hope that the analog face would charm her, my wife hated the harshly techno design, which I must admit, was far from “organic”.
    Maybe there’s still a market out there for the perfect alarm clock design?

    I am inspired by your passion for the Moonbeam Clock. It’s now summer and I plan to wake up with the sun. The Moonbeam Clock is now in my son’s room. He loves it, and it is helping him to tell time. There are worse clocks out there…like the one that sends the tiny helicopter blades around the room, forcing the sleeper to get out of bed and chase it before it knocks something over.

  3. Allison / Jun 10 2008 4:29 am

    I hate it when radio commercials have alarm clock buzzing. It stresses me out at work.

  4. thedailyelephant / Jun 9 2008 8:24 pm

    that is one good lookin clock though.

  5. pikespeakdenise / Jun 7 2008 7:51 pm

    I guess it is as wrong as Moonbeam as a name.

    I ordered yet another coffee maker yesterday.

  6. Stacey / Jun 7 2008 9:09 am

    Is there such a thing as a good alarm clock? I don’t like anything that wakes me up before I’m ready, I don’t care how gently it does it.

  7. christine / Jun 6 2008 4:34 pm

    A Moonbeam of dashed hopes?! Take a hammer and bash that mowfa to pieces!!

  8. Dave / Jun 6 2008 6:56 am

    I’ve always wanted a Zen Alarm Clock: http://www.now-zen.com/cgi-bin/orders/shop.pl?ACTION=ENTER+SHOP&thispage=zenclocks&AFFILIATE=&ORDER_ID=%21ORDERID%21

    I tend to be a snoozer, and the idea of waking gradually appeals to me. I’ve never had one, but my father-in-law had one for a while and liked it. I don’t know if light alone would be enough to wake me up.

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